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Somalia Conflict, Security and Stability Fund

Volume 602: debated on Thursday 26 November 2015

This written statement proposes the gifting of new equipment to the Somali national army (SNA).

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, for the Department concerned to present to the House of Commons a minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The Government’s priority for Somalia is to reduce the threat posed to UK national interests by building a more stable, peaceful and prosperous country. This includes improving the operational capability of the SNA to conduct security and stabilisation operations in Somalia, and better enable them to counter al-Shabaab.

The Government plan to deliver £3.2 million of gifting support to the SNA through the conflict, security and stability fund (CSSF). We will provide: computers; printers; generators; training aids; office equipment; tents; specialist vehicles—water bowsers, fuel tankers, recovery vehicles; individual kit (e.g. belts and blankets) and vehicle tools. We also intend to provide infrastructure support to refurbish buildings for military use. Working with the UN and SNA, we will develop a basic repair and maintenance workshop for vehicles, increasing logistics and operational capacity.

The provision of equipment has been endorsed by the SNA and is in line with the UK’s commitment to support the Guulwade plan, a Somali-owned plan—endorsed by donors—which sets out the SNA’s capability requirements. The gifting of this equipment is consistent with export controls (no licence is required), complies with our international obligations, and will be procured through carefully selected implementing partners.

A memorandum of understanding between the Government and the Somali Government will attach conditions—e.g. SNA troops will be human rights trained; equipment will not be diverted or inappropriately used—to the supply of this equipment and support. An overseas security and justice assistance (OSJA) assessment has already been completed and will be kept under review. We will closely monitor the security situation and monitor and evaluate this programme, halting support if we believe the equipment or support is being misused.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the minute is laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a parliamentary question or a motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

[HCWS334]